All events end the same way, right? Your conference builds to a final speech by your keynote speaker, and everyone else sits down and listens. That’s the only way to run a major event, yes?
Well, no, of course not. While speakers are a time-tested way to run an event, trends are pushing for more participation on the parts of attendees, and interaction and co-creation are the hot ideas at the moment. While it’s no good throwing the baby out with the bathwater – a well-given speech can still be the highlight of your conference – it’s good to know you have options. Here are some alternative to the classic speech for you to spice up your next event.
Most corporate speakers are guns for hire – they attend many of the same events, and provide good, solid, generic advice. They may not have any personal experience with you, your company or the situation you’re dealing with. Sometimes, rather than a polished generic speaker, it’s better to have a less-polished but more authentic testimonial. It will connect your themes and message to the real world – and if you’re worried about non-professionals coming off as unprofessional and unpolished, you can supplement them with a moderator to help move things along, or an edited video to help make them sound more compelling.
Nothing is better than hands-on learning. It’s one thing to hear a speaker talk about something; it’s another to experience it for yourselves. Rather than building your event up to a final speaker, why not let your participants network and experience things for themselves? Don’t have someone talk about, say, innovation or productivity; break into groups and allow participants to work through these issues in a structured environment.
Your event is already bringing people with different experiences and viewpoints together; why not let them help each other? Small groups, interviews and panels are ways for the attendees themselves to help provide content and experience. The wisdom of crowds can be a powerful tool – let the people who are attending work with one another and co-create your content. For many big issues – goal setting, decision making, strategic planning – there isn’t one “right” or “wrong” solution, and having one key speaker provide one way of thinking about an issue can often be less valuable than hearing about a wide range of ideas and experiences from different people – what works in one situation might not work in another, and the more tools you have in your arsenal, the more likely you will be able to overcome a problem